STEAM MILL – BAILLEUL
29th March, Mon. Entrenching exercise. 2 Coys moving. 2 Coys afternoon trenches opposite one another 40 X apart (yards?). 30th March, Tue. Entrenching practice and Bomb Throwing practice.
31st March, Wed. Constructing Barbed wire Entanglements, construction of hurdles & improvement of trenches, morning. At 1.15pm orders received to march to Bailleul . Moved off at 3.30 pm. Arrived Bailleul at 5.0 pm. Billeted there for the night. Certain proportion of Officers went to Neuve Eglise to inspect trenches & take over huts for Battn.
March Diary Signed by R.R.Raymer*, Lt.Col. Comdg. 1/5th Bn. South Staffordshire Regt.
BULFORD CAMP: NEUVE EGLISE 1st April, Thur. Morning in Billets. Bn paraded at 2.30 pm & marched to ‘Bulford Camp’ one mile SW of Neuve Eglise – vacated by 2nd Bn Kings Own (R. Lancaster Regt). Arrived Camp 5.0 pm. (1)
April 1st Thursday Morning.
My Dear Sir,
We are on the move again. I believe we are going into the trenches again & will probably be in on Good Friday and Saturday. I expect to see Sid today. He is still away (1). We were digging trenches yesterday morning & had to hurry back to the barn & go without dinner & dress in full pack & be off.
So what became of your handsome parcel? I carried it along the march for some distance & then it dropped. A. D. Jones then gave a hand (2). I managed to get it here safe & thought best to open it just to see if anything important was inside. What a fine handsome neatly made up parcel it is, some of Dad’s handling I bet; nothing whatever smashed. I just had one cake & opened a neatly rolled handkerchief & read Ida’s letter.
– Yes it would be better to send separate parcels to my opinion, but what say you ?
Dear Dad, it is encouraging just to see the way you address our parcels, for it reminds me of your deep consideration for us & pleasant cheerful face, as though as to express the idea that after all there is no reason to pine over this war. Of course the sooner its over the better, but we must not come to terms of peace on any ground – and then again what is the fighting?
Let’s hope for Eternal Life & we shall see one another again in happiness. In past wars there have been men return home safe and sound. Let’s hope that Sid & I will. But what I cannot get cool about is the thought of seeing chums wounded when I myself am not & to return home after seeing fallen chums.
Vernon, Sid and I – wasn’t it lucky we all got together weeks last Tuesday night when we went to the trenches last time.
I was kindly remembered by Mr A.E. Hurst last Sunday. He sent me an interesting letter & a parcel full of good things, stationery, text books and some Cadbury’s Chocolate. I’m glad you got the newspaper. I will begin to conclude my letter now. I still find it difficult to write short letters.
Afternoon. Another long march just finished. Am in a most comfortable wooden hut. A cannon has just gone off, shook the place my word! the loudest I’ve heard. With the old QMS boys again.
Tell Mr Venables* Arthur B. looks very well. We’ve all got parcels. I’ve had to carry Sid’s parcel again, this time I tied it on my pack.
I wish you and Mother & all at home, as well as Harold & Miss Bore, a very pleasant Easter, hoping you will spend it all together round the tea table & remember Sid and me at Church.
The weather is simply lovely and bright; rather warm on the march. We had had very cold weather & I have had chapped hands early part of the week. Basil would like to be with us, but there are more than myself who think it best & fortunate that he is under age & not with us. I still think of his exam and hope it will come off lucky.
I wrote a letter to Miss Foster before this, & just after the post came I got a parcel of Cadbury Chocolate for Sid and me. Sid is still away. After opening the parcel I put the handkerchief back again & paper on top & wrapped it up again. I think I shall open it now for I don’t know what we shall do next. Oh how nice it would have been to have had Sid with me & to spread the lovely napkin & divide the luxuries for tea.
I have carried V. Evans’ parcel & Sanger’s. Vernon is with Sid & Corp. Sanger*. I shall have to close now with the very best of wishes & happiness. I am keeping jolly well. There goes another Jack Robinson – I don’t think! (4)
PS Have written to Miss Foster & will write to Mother later.
(1) Neuve Eglise Fr. /Nieuwkerke Flemish. (2) Sydney Hibbett (with Vernon Evans & Sanger) was no doubt involved in preparations for move to Bulford Camp, & Wulverghem Trenches, opposite Messines.
(3) Bertie was trying to carry a parcel about 8 miles to Bailleul on top of his full pack. By the time he finished this letter he had carried it another 9 miles to Bulford Camp. (4) A ‘Jack Robinson’: 1st WW nickname for a shell or bomb . (Identity 18th C. real person lost: term assoc. with immediate/ sudden change ‘as quick as you can say Jack Robinson’).
NEXT POST: 2nd APRIL, 1915. Also Update of Welcome Page.